This 2022 project follows on from the Greater London Authority (GLA) Challenge London innovation process last year, which focused on London’s green recovery after the pandemic. Under ‘Designing London’s Recovery’, funded by the GLA, we are partnering with Ubele, OrganicLea, Sutton Community Farm, Cohere and Sustain to develop a service for local authorities to support food growing on their land, under their briefs of: ‘Building Strong Communities’ and ‘Green New Deal’ and ‘High Streets for all’.
This work sits in the context of our ongoing Fringe Farming project and our work on council farmland (see our Reviving County Farms report), researching the role of different types of land for food growing around the UK, and particularly the use of public land for public benefit.
We are designing a service that is mutually beneficial to food growing groups looking for land, and local authorities; where local authorities are able to offer support to food growing groups and individuals looking to find authority-owned land available. Rather than people having to approach and navigate the various departments and layers of local authorities, the service would aim to support local authorities through any or all of the multiple steps from assessing how their land could be used for food growing projects (whilst helping them meet other existing targets or commitments, for example around climate change), to getting people onto the land and running successful enterprises. In this way, local authorities will be able to proactively support projects which are environmentally and socially beneficial.
Currently we are working with an economist at Common Wealth on an assessment of the monetary value that different social and environmental aspects of our proposed service could provide. We have also conducted an internal workshop with our partners to map out the different parts of the service that we would like to see realised in the design, and over the coming months we will provide external workshops with local authority officers to receive feedback and refine the design so that it works for both food growing groups and local authorities.
If further funding is secured, we would aim to put the designed service resulting from the project into action, to enable us to mobilise the benefits that this sort of infrastructure could give to communities for food growing projects; ultimately supporting healthy, sustainable, and local food systems.